Steve gave four talks: his conversion story, a talk on stewardship, a talk on Peter as Keeper of the Keys, and a talk on "Faith Alone".   I have read his book Upon This Rock, but had never seen or heard him on TV or radio or anything like that.

His writing style is very clear, but also very dense with information, and even more information in the footnotes.  His speaking style was similar — clear and engaging, but meaty.  Not too thick for ordinary listeners, because the level of detail is pared down to what you can manage to digest as a listener.  Quite gifted that way, as the talks were insightful and engaging for those of us who were already well-informed on the subjects, but would still be completely manageable for someone new to the topics.

One thing to note is that Steve Ray is a very enthusiastic speaker;  he uses strong expressions to communicate his ideas, and is physically animated as he speaks.   Overall this makes for an effective communicator.  However, since apologetics deals with proving that one side is right (and therefore, that   others are wrong), it would be very understandable that evangelical protestant listeners would find his "love the heretic, hate the heresy" approach to be a bit much.  (My words not his).   For most people, it would be more useful for the catholic to attend the conference, and then find diplomatic ways to share some of the ideas with a protestant friend, than to just take the protestant friend along directly.  Or at the very least, warn the protestant friend ahead of time, and make sure that said friend is game for a little intellectual fire-and-brimstone.

An incredible testimony to Steve’s skill as a speaker is that he kept me awake during the stewardship talk.   For one thing I have Stewardship Fatigue, as our diocese finished its Year of Stewardship just as our parish kicked its capital campaign into high gear.   For another, the stewardship talk came just when all traces of caffeine were leaving my brain, and I had a warm, snuggly nursling doing her best to lull me to sleep.   Final potentially fatal stroke was that this was a new topic in his repertoire and thus a relatively un-tested talk.   

But keep me awake he did!  And it wasn’t just because he managed to work real live (or rather, dead) human skeletal remains into his talk, though certainly that didn’t hurt.  Mostly it was that he brought new ideas and insights into an often lifeless topic, and really pushed the audience in our christian walk.  In the coming weeks or months I hope to blog a little bit about some of the ideas he presented, but in the meantime, I’ll just recommend that if you need a parish presentation on stewardship, this is your man.

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